England look to Mitchell to spark their World Cup
England have taken a step towards igniting their attack by picking Alex Mitchell at scrum-half for their crucial World Cup opener against Argentina in Marseille tomorrow.
Mitchell was omitted from the original 33-man squad named by Steve Borthwick only to be given a reprieve when Jack van Poortvliet suffered a tournament-ending ankle injury.
Having impressed on his first Test start against Fiji, the 26-year-old has retained half-back duties with the aim of adding zip to England’s game, while Danny Care provides support from the bench.
Tom Curry makes his first appearance under Borthwick and his maiden outing at any level since Sale lost to Saracens in the Gallagher Premiership final in May after being given the nod at openside.
Curry has been struggling with an ankle injury sustained during training in early August but in an indication of his influence on England, he has been thrust straight into the back row.
Ben Earl has been asked to fill the suspended Billy Vunipola’s boots at number eight with Courtney Lawes leading the side at blindside flanker in the absence of banned captain Owen Farrell.
The race at tighthead prop has been won by 36-year-old Dan Cole, who will be appearing in his fourth World Cup with previous first choice Kyle Sinckler missing from the 23 altogether.
Manu Tuilagi is joined in the centres by Joe Marchant and there is a veteran look to the wings where Elliot Daly and Jonny May are deployed.
May is a second player who was left out of original World Cup squad but now finds himself in action in the main event of Pool D, which Argentina enter as marginal favourites.
The Pumas prevailed 30-29 in the rivals’ last meeting at Twickenham last November while England are reeling from a run of five defeats in six Tests.
“With an excellent week of preparation in Le Touquet, the players are now looking forward to starting their World Cup campaign under the lights in Marseille on Saturday,” Borthwick said.
“After a number of impressive performances in the last 12 months by Argentina, we know that the first game in our pool will provide a stern test.
“This great tournament provides an excitingly special opportunity for our players, who I know, as ever, will be giving their all in front of our travelling support in the south of France.”
England team to play Argentina in Pool D of the Rugby World Cup in Marseille on Saturday, September 9 (8pm BST): F Steward (Leicester); J May (Gloucester), J Marchant (Stade Francais), M Tuilagi (Sale), E Daly (Saracens); G Ford (Sale), A Mitchell (Northampton); E Genge (Bristol), J George (Saracens), D Cole (Leicester), M Itoje (Saracens), O Chessum (Leicester), C Lawes (Northampton, capt), T Curry (Sale), B Earl (Saracens).
Replacements: T Dan (Saracens), J Marler (Harlequins), W Stuart (Bath), G Martin (Leicester), L Ludlam (Northampton), D Care (Harlequins), M Smith (Harlequins), O Lawrence (Bath).